Left to Right – Jim, Susie, Jen & Ian / Our Stand / Susie, Jen & Ian
Last week Borders Journeys, Borders Ancestry and Berwick Time Lines headed south for the season’s biggest event in the ancestral history calendar: Who Do You Think You Are? Live in Olympia, London. The world’s biggest family history show gathers hundreds of ancestral research experts and companies for a three-day extravaganza of workshops, exhibits, talks and displays. The live event attracts thousands, keen to explore their ancestry and to connect with their ancestors.
Along with Susie Douglas from Borders Ancestry and Jim Herbert from Berwick Timelines we started planning for the event in July 2013. The three companies had decided to share a stand and between us we had Scotland and particularly the south of Scotland well covered! Flyers were printed and backdrops designed plus we had something extra up our sleeves to catch people’s attention.
We travelled down to Olympia the day before to set-up the stand. This gave us the time to make sure we were happy with the layout and all of our IT was working. On day one, as we stood looking out at the hundreds of people, the realisation hit – we were here. It had been eight months in the planning, but here we were at – Who Do You Think You Are? Live. However, there wasn’t time to reflect upon it – there were enquiries to answer and people to meet! Crowds were flocking to the stand – intrigued by the displays, admiring Ian’s kilt and fascinated by our secret weapon – the wonderful Jen Runciman dressed as a Berwickshire bondager.
Bondagers were farmworkers, always female, whose work was vital to the agriculture of South East Scotland and Northumberland. Married ploughmen, or hinds, were bound by an agreement with the farmer to supply another worker to ensure the farmer had a sufficient labour force for the year’s tasks. While the bondager was usually the hind’s wife or daughter, she was often hired in. These female farmworkers wore colourful and distinctive costumes, and Jen sported a replica of one at our stand at Who Do You Think You Are? Live. With her petticoats and large hat she stood out in the crowd and many at the stand were captivated by the history of the bondagers.
Left to Right – Opening Day / Jen Runciman / Susie, Jen & Ian busy answering ancestral enquiries
We were delighted at the numbers that thronged to our stand, wanting to know more about their Scottish heritage and family history in Dumfries & Galloway, Scottish Borders and Northumberland. Along with ScotlandsPeople, VisitScotland, Strathclyde University and the University of Dundee we formed the Scottish contingent. Many were interested in Homecoming Scotland – to those who can’t visit this year, we simply say that they are always welcome – you can come home anytime! Some lingered, somewhat wistfully, at the stand. Upon being asked if they were curious about their Scottish heritage they replied regretfully: ‘I don’t have any… but I really wish I did!’ As well as stands, there were some excellent talks and workshops. While there Ian was invited to join the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG), an international organisation with a strict code of conduct and to which Susie was already a member.
We met so many amazing people at Who Do You Think You Are? Live and had a brilliant time – from discussing local surnames and fascinating ancestral tales to building links with our fellows in the field. We can’t wait for the next one – Borders Journeys and Borders Ancestry will see you in Glasgow at the end of August.
Who Do You Think You Are? Live Glasgow will take place at the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre from 29 August to 31 August 2014. More information and tickets will be available nearer the time.